Planning in the Moment with Two and Three Year Olds : Child-initiated Play in Action book cover
1st Edition

Planning in the Moment with Two and Three Year Olds
Child-initiated Play in Action

ISBN 9780367140151
Published June 29, 2020 by Routledge
314 Pages 382 Color Illustrations

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Book Description

Children are most engaged – and therefore learn best – when they are following their own interests. In this book, Anna Ephgrave shows how her acclaimed ‘planning in the moment’ approach can be used with two and three year olds with dramatic results for both children and staff. It reveals the impact that free-flowing, child-initiated play has on very young children’s wellbeing, making them feel safe, secure and consequently helping them to be fully engaged in their learning.

The first part of the book clearly explains the principles of child-initiated play and demonstrates how practitioners can create the best possible environment for very young children, also looking at the resources and practices that need to be in place for them to flourish. There is detailed guidance on the role of the practitioner, including how adults should observe children’s play, before deciding how – or if – to interact in that moment to ensure that each interaction moves learning forward and supports the child’s unique development. The second part of the book tracks some of the events from each month in the toddler room of an outstanding preschool, following a cohort of children through a year, to show how the setting moved from topic-based, adult-led activities to a fully child-led way of working.

Key features include:

  • Over 350 full colour photos to illustrate practice
  • Specific guidance on using the ‘in the moment’ approach with all children, including those with additional needs
  • Advice on working with parents, individual children and groups
  • Examples of individual learning journeys
  • Photocopiable templates of ‘focus-child’ sheets

Covering all aspects of practice from the organization of the room and outdoor environment to the routines and boundaries that ensure children are safe and happy, this book is essential reading for anyone who works with two and three year olds.

Table of Contents


1. Why plan in the moment

2. The environment

3. The adult role

4. Observation and assessment

5. September

6. October

7. November

8. December

9. January

10. February

11. March

12. April

13. May

14. June

15. July

Summary and conclusion

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Anna Ephgrave has been teaching for over 27 years. Her most recent post was Assistant Head Teacher responsible for the early years and year one at Carterhatch Infant School, which was graded as Outstanding in its most recent inspection. Anna is now an independent consultant, trainer and author, supporting practitioners both in the United Kingdom and abroad. She has written four highly successful books for Routledge: Planning in the Moment with Young Children, The Reception Year in Action, Year One in Action, and The Nursery Year in Action, which was the winner of Nursery World’s Professional Books Award, 2017.


We have a lot of visitors now and I say to them (and to anyone reading this book) – take the leap and have a go. Some of our staff had reservations, but now they are all on board. They have been convinced by what has happened:-

  • The data shows that the children are making outstanding progress
  • The atmosphere is purposeful and busy
  • The behavior management has reduced massively
  • The workload and paperwork has reduced too
  • The staff feel that they really know all the children so much better

My main message would be that settings should try this approach in its entirety. Have faith; child-initiated play, with planning in the moment, (if it is done well), will give results that will amaze you. It will also re-ignite your enthusiasm for early childhood education.

Helen Clegg, Owner, Staple Hill Stars Preschool, UK.


To have such constructive and calm learning episodes happening so organically around the space is a triumph to all the staff at the nursery and indeed [the] approach.

Aliye Veli, independent early years consultant and trainer, UK.